UN concerned about the killing of a human rights defender and the conviction of another human rights defender in Sudan because of their human rights work
This is also available in: العربية (Arabic) متوفر ايضا باللغة
Translated and edited by: Committee for Justice
Geneva: 27 July 2021
UN experts have sent a UN memorandum to the Sudanese government regarding the killing of human rights defender, Faisal Youssef Mohamed, and the sentencing of human rights defender, Waad Bahgat.
Killed without any investigation so far:
According to the memo sent on May 4, 2021, which has not yet been answered, Faisal Youssef Mohamed, a human rights defender and legal trainee from West Darfur, was a member of both the Al-Amiriya neighborhood resistance committee, which organizes peaceful demonstrations to promote rights Sudan’s Civil and Economic Network, and the El Geneina Paralegal Network, which works to improve access to legal aid for IDPs living in camps in the west. While working with IDPs in Krinding camp, at approximately 10pm, a group of Arab tribes attacked the camp targeting the Masalit ethnic group. They attacked the house of Mohammed and killed him and two members of his family, and no investigation has been conducted into his death so far.
Discriminatory trial due to human rights work:
Waad Bahgat is a human rights defender, engineer and blogger whose writing focuses on women’s rights in Sudan, and a member of the Amada Resistance Committee, which mobilizes peacefully to advance civil and economic rights in Sudan, and against public corruption in the country. The experts stated that on November 9, 2020, she was arrested at a petrol station in the Al-Amerat neighborhood in Khartoum by a Sudanese policeman, in the presence of an officer in the Sudanese Armed Forces.
The experts explained that at the time of her arrest, the human rights defender was broadcasting a live video on social media in which she claimed that women in the center were being discriminated against by the police and the Sudanese Armed Forces. She was then transferred to the Emtedad police station, where her mobile phone was confiscated and she was interrogated. She was subjected to threats and ill-treatment, including physical abuse that led to injuries to her shoulder. She was released the next day on bail, and was charged with spreading false news, disturbing the public, Insulting a public official who was taking legal action, and defamation.
On March 31, 2021, after at least one adjournment of her case, the Criminal Court convicted and sentenced Bahjat to six months in prison (suspended), and a fine of 10,000 Sudanese pounds (about 22 euros), for using criminal force and public disturbance.
UN concern about the lack of investigations:
The experts expressed grave concern over the killing of Mohammed and his family members, expecting that this may be in retaliation for his work in protecting and promoting the realization of the internal rights of the displaced in West Darfur, and heightening concern that an investigation into the killing of the human rights defender and members of his family remains to be conducted.
The experts also expressed serious concern about Bahjat’s trial, which may be in retaliation for her legitimate exercise of her right to freedom of expression as a human rights defender in relation to alleged acts of discrimination against women.
UN demands from the Sudanese government:
The experts called on the Sudanese government to provide information on the steps it has taken to ensure a full and effective investigation into the killing of Mohammed and members of his family, in compliance with its obligations under international human rights law, as well as any steps toward prosecution that may have resulted from the investigation.
The experts called on Sudan to provide information on the factual and legal bases for Bahgat’s arrest and trial, and to explain how these procedures were consistent with Articles 9 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The experts also requested information on the steps Sudan has taken to ensure that human rights defenders, including women human rights defenders, throughout Sudan can carry out their work in a safe and enabling environment without fear of intimidation or harassment.